Sheets Gulch can be done as a long day hike or an overnight, depending on where you turn around. (One-way mileage to Tantalus Flat is 9 miles or 14.5 km) Backcountry permits are required for all overnight trips and can be obtained at the visitor center.
Sheets Gulch is located 13.3 miles (21.4 km) south of Hwy 24 on the Notom-Bullfrog Road. One mile up the wash (west) you will encounter a major side drainage on the right (north); stay left. A short distance further up canyon another drainage enters; stay right at this junction. One mile (1.6 km) further, the wash bottom narrows and you may find a few pools of water associated with several small dry falls. The most difficult obstacle along the route, another dry fall and pool, is encountered 3.5 miles (5.6 km) from the road.
A good climber will be able to negotiate this alone, but most people will need assistance from another person. The last obstacle is 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from the trailhead. Here you will encounter a high pour off in a cave-like chamber; bypass this by backtracking about 100 yards (91 m) and climbing out of the wash on the right (north) side of the canyon. Beyond this point, numerous stands of Douglas Fir begin to appear on cool, shaded north slopes, and the canyon walls begin to change from the white Navajo to the red Wingate. Six miles (9.7 km) in from the trailhead there is an intermittent seep with cottonwood trees. Soon, the canyon opens up and becomes much wider. This point constitutes a full day for most people and is a good place to turn around. To return to the trailhead, simply retrace the route back down the canyon.
If you left a second vehicle at Tantalus Flat, or if you are on an overnight trip (backcountry permit required), it is possible to continue up canyon for several more miles. Eventually, an old jeep trail will lead you out of Sheets Gulch to Tantalus Flat. If you left a vehicle at Tantalus Flat, your hike will end here. If your vehicle is on the Notom-Bullfrog Road, return to the trailhead by retracing the same route back down the canyon (9 miles or 14.5 km).
Sheets Gulch to Tantalus Flat, one way: 9 miles (14.5 km)